Coach George Raveling on This Unique Moment in Time, How to Practice Self-Leadership, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and Much More (#438)

Photo by Jared Polin

“My hope is that we will be who we say we are. All of us.” — Coach George Raveling

Coach George Raveling (@GeorgeRaveling) is an 82-year-old living legend and Nike’s former Director of International Basketball. Coach Raveling was the first African-American head basketball coach in the PAC-8 (now PAC-12). On August 28, 1963, at age 26, while volunteering as security at the March on Washington, Raveling would humbly become the guardian of what we have come to know as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Coach Raveling has held head coaching positions at Washington State, the University of Iowa, and USC. Following a prolific basketball coaching career, he joined Nike at the request of Phil Knight, where he played an integral role in signing a reluctant Michael Jordan. He’s also been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Coach George Raveling made his first appearance on the podcast in 2018, and for me, it was one of the most impactful interviews I’ve done, and I came out of it walking on air.

We covered a lot of ground in that first interview, including how Coach Raveling came to own the original copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, how his practice team ended up beating the 1984 US Olympic Dream Team in basketball, how he helped convince Michael Jordan to sign with Nike, and much more. I strongly urge you to listen to that conversation about Coach’s life, philosophies, and lessons learned.

I invited George back on the podcast to hear his thoughts on everything that is happening right now. These are difficult and uncertain times for millions of people, and my heart goes out to each and every person navigating the depths of sadness, anger, and fear.

As you’ll hear in today’s episode, Coach Raveling has great hope. He’s seen many changes in his lifetime, and we can all strive to be the positive change agents that he implores us to be.

Please enjoy this timely—and timeless—conversation with Coach George Raveling. 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#438: Coach George Raveling on This Unique Moment in Time, How to Practice Self-Leadership, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and Much More

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear Coach Raveling’s first time on the show? — Listen to our conversation in which we discussed how he came to possess the original copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, how his practice team ended up beating the 1984 US Olympic Dream Team in basketball, and much, much more!

#332: Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life


  • Connect with George Raveling:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn


  • George kicks off our conversation with a prayer for George Floyd and the countless others who have suffered during these times of social change. [02:58]
  • George shares the “stop strategy” he goes through — as a successful, 82-year-old black man in modern America — every time he’s pulled over by the police. [04:38]
  • A challenge to all of us (George includes himself here): to try to better understand one another beyond our surface impressions. [10:54]
  • Why does George collect historically racist paraphernalia? [11:39]
  • Having honest conversations — including when they’re with ourselves, and what George believes are two of the most important words in the English language right now. [16:17]
  • Why do so many of us actively avoid engaging in difficult conversations that might escalate into emotional debates? George admits he isn’t immune to this phenomenon, but he has some ideas. [21:00]
  • Present when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic I Have a Dream speech (and in possession of the actual copy read by Dr. King), what are some of the differences and commonalities that George sees between then and now? [23:44]
  • Group leadership versus self-leadership for crafting a better future, and the question George asks himself every day. (Here’s a bonus question to ask yourself: disqualifying corporate executives, who do you consider to be the five best leaders in the world today?) [28:31]
  • As a voracious reader, what books does George (aka The Human Google) recommend for helping to develop the qualities of self-leadership and self-discipline, as well as for understanding social system inequities? [38:22]
  • What would George say to people right now who are feeling consumed by anger — or powerless — at the moment? [42:42]
  • What has George found exploring his outer limits — thinking outside of the box paradigm entirely — to look like, and what 21st-century skills does he cultivate in order to stay relevant (and not a relic) at age 82? [50:00]
  • Advice — and a pledge — for people who feel a need to do something, but are unsure of what that something might be. [56:53]
  • The difference between a statement and a message, and why George has grown weary of corporate and organizational speak. [1:00:29]
  • Sometimes it takes someone else to say “I believe in you” before you really start to believe in yourself. [1:05:55]
  • Advice for parents who are trying to raise their kids to be as empowered and self-enabled as possible. [1:10:17]
  • What George hopes might emerge from these turbulent times. [1:12:39]
  • Parting thoughts and a closing prayer. [1:13:45]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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13 Replies to “Coach George Raveling on This Unique Moment in Time, How to Practice Self-Leadership, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and Much More (#438)”

  1. I am inspired by Coach Raveling’s continued commitment to growth and moved by his talking about reading the book Tell Me Who You Are (which I ordered). Thanks for bringing this episode for such a time as this.

  2. Thanks Tim and George for bringing round 2 – such impactful messages and a great interview conversation as always. Practice self discipline and self leadership will be on my bathroom mirror 😉. Thanks Simon

  3. Hi Tim,

    I just had a beer and ate pizza. Because that’s part of who I am.

    I wonder what the top two things are that you would change in your book 4-hour work week given your extra life experience?

    Br William

  4. George and Tim, thank you for this. It was POSITIVE. I loved the part about self discipline and self leadership. I need to practice both. I also thought that the prayer said at both the beginning and at the end of the podcast was beautiful. Thanks again.

  5. George Raveling impressed me because given his life, his experiences, his goal and M.O. is love, peace and always striving to be better.
    Tim, a few of your podcasts have made me cry – this was one: Why in the 21st century do black people in the US need to have a “stop plan”?
    So many great quotes: “I believe in you” probably being the most important. I will try to introduce this into my own vocabulary, because I agree, its not said enough and I certainly don’t say it enough.
    The most impactful part was the request to take the pledge that everything we do should be to contribute to making a positive difference.

  6. POWERFUL!!!
    At 50+, a black male and human being this is one of the most aw inspiring moments of my life. The WISDOM shared by Coach “Mr.” Raveling changes my movements and behaviors. There are so many takeaways I could not mention them all.

    HUMILITY is one word that comes to mind while listening to him. AUTHENTIC would be another. I’ve listened twice in less than 24 hours and found something new to apply to life and life of those in my sphere of influence. His passion for life and those around him is felt in his sharing of life.

    The fences are torn down, BOXES removed and the challenge taken.


  7. Thank you so much Tim for this podcast.
    I fully commit to be a positive change agent, a positive difference maker in as many lives as possible.

  8. Fantastic interview Tim. Should be required listening for every white person in the United States. I took the Pledge. John Herbert SPS Class of 1965.

  9. This was such rich conversation. I’ll be playing this for my kids as his perspective and experience is something we all don’t get to hear enough of. This was just wonderful.

  10. Great timing for round 2. Amazing how most people in the US don’t understand how our education was designed.